Cafe Society

Nadine Donovan, pastry chef of Old Major: "Bourbon makes everything better"

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Craziest night in the kitchen: Any opening night in a kitchen is crazy. Everything is new, exciting, nerve-racking, and everyone is sleep-deprived. It's a wild time.

If you could train under any pastry chef in the world, who would it be? It wouldn't be a pastry chef; it would be Heston Blumenthal. I'm fascinated by his scientific approach to cooking, and even though he's not a pastry chef, I believe that his vast knowledge of unorthodox techniques and conceptual cooking would help me grow tremendously in my field.

What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring pastry staff? Knowledge of fundamental techniques, a strong work ethic and a good personality. If we're going to spend sixty-plus hours a week together in the kitchen, we might as well have a little fun. I'm thankful every day to work with such a strong, dependable and lighthearted pastry team.

If you had the opportunity to open your own restaurant with no budget constraints, what kind of restaurant would you open? I can't give up all my secrets.

Biggest moment of euphoria in the kitchen: One evening at Old Major, toward the end of service, the entire kitchen crew busted out in song, in unison, as loud as possible. Some of the guests joined in. I couldn't help but think to myself, "This is it. I've found my home."

Greatest accomplishment as a pastry chef: My role here at Old Major. To run a pastry department, have creative freedom, and work next to some of the most talented, compassionate chefs I've ever met is an accomplishment and an honor.

What's one thing that people would be surprised to know about you? I have a terrible memory. Borderline amnesia. It's really embarrassing.

Last dessert before you die: A dear friend was telling me the other day that the best meals in life are those prepared specifically for you, by someone who loves you. My mom could make me any dessert, and if that was the very last bite I ever had, I could die a happy woman.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson